Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley was grilled by reporters on Monday morning over the recently publicized decision to privatize the Council’s security.
According to the Mayor, the decision was taken in order to reduce costs, slashing a bill of $700,000 to about $400,000.
The Council previously eliminated private security and cut 30 employes when it first entered office.
And while cost-cutting is fine and good, of the 26 employees affected by City Hall’s move only 20 of them will be hired by the new company headed by former security director Hiram Longsworth.
The Mayor could not say what their pay and benefits would be, as there is no contract signed between the two parties as yet. He insisted in fiery exchanges with reporters that there were consultations with the affected staff done before the final decision was made and that the Council was not ignorant of the plight of the workers.
He admitted that the redundancy may have been sudden, but the Council will not shirk its responisbility to make all payments necessary and address any queries.
Mayor Bradley added that the Labour Act’s 30-day requirement cited by the Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) last week as breach of protocol is actually to inform authorities like the Labour Commissioner and the union of plans to proceed, not the employees, who are subject to the same period of notice for redundancy as they would get for outright termination.
Today the Mayor met with Commissioner Ivan Williams and they settled the matter with the Council holding off until later this week while it meets again with the affected workers.
The move reduces the Council’s employment listing to 225 from 297, and the Council, according to the Mayor, has given employees increments, better health benefits, and is working on tenure and unionization.
The Christian Workers’ Union is the bargaining unit on record but has been unable to get started on a collective bargaining agreement since 1999.
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